Another year, another solid draft by the Baltimore Ravens-at least if you read most of the instant draft grades from the experts. The Ravens, after a snafu where the Chicago Bears didn’t call in a proposed trade in time which cost the Ravens a spot in the draft order, still came out of the first round with the player they wanted all along-cornerback Jimmy Smith from Colorado. Going into the draft, the Ravens seemingly had four positions of need, and they addressed three of them during the draft. Cornerback, offensive tackle and wide receiver were all addressed in the first three picks. However, the need of a pass rusher to pair with Terrell Suggs went unaddressed.
This is becoming a trend with the Ravens and the draft. Two years ago, wide receiver was considered the biggest need, and the Ravens didn’t draft one. Last year, cornerback was considered the top priority and one wasn’t drafted. Whether or not a pass rusher was the top priority is a matter of opinion, but the braintrust couldn’t or wouldn’t draft one. Part of the reason why may be that the best pass rushers were already gone by the time the Ravens drafted; and it may be that the team decided that a shutdown corner like Smith was the biggest need that had to be addressed. It may also be surmised that the front office believes that Sergio Kindle-who was drafted last year to address the pass rush-may be able to get on the field after missing all of last season with a fractured skull. How much faith should the fans have that Kindle has shook off his demons and will be ready to play when and if the season begins? Maybe the Ravens feel that Paul Kruger, who was drafted two years ago, is ready to show that he can be the pass rusher the team needs. However, in two years under former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, Kruger found playing time scarce. Who believes that Kruger is the missing piece of the puzzle? Or is there someone else out there who hasn’t been mentioned?
Of course, not every need can be met through the draft. Such is the case just about every year; not just this weird one when only draft picks, and not players on team rosters could be traded. Ozzie Newsome has gone on record as saying that the need for a pass rusher will be addressed when free agency begins. Given the status of the lockout, who knows when that will be? And even then, will there be anybody available that can produce and provide a threat opposite Suggs that the team needs? Time will tell.